UPDATED: September 2017
One of the most common questions we get is about the order in which newcomers to the franchise should watch Stargate SG-1, Atlantis, Stargate Universe, and the movies. You asked for it — now GateWorld is pleased to present our recommended Stargate Viewing Order!
Generally speaking, the continuity between the shows and films matches the order of their original broadcast and DVD release. In order to maintain the highest degree of continuity in your viewing of the Stargate franchise, follow this guide (don’t worry — there are no plot spoilers here):
1) Stargate the Movie. Ah, there’s no better place to begin than at the beginning. The television series picks up where the Kurt Russell and James Spader flick leaves off. Watch the 1994 film to be introduced to Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Sha’re (or Sha’uri), Skaara and the rest.
2) Stargate SG-1, Seasons One through Seven. This covers the show’s run from 1997 to 2004, before its spin-off Stargate Atlantis premiered. Starting with the pilot movie “Children of the Gods” (we recommend the Final Cut edition), the story picks up one year after the original.
3) SG-1 Season Eight & Atlantis Season One. During the 2004-2005 season, SCI FI Channel paired the two shows on Friday nights and the writers wrote the timeline accordingly. For the most part, the shows’ continuity remained cleanly separated (there are only a few passing references, such as in “Prometheus Unbound”). If you don’t mind going back and forth, be sure to start with SG-1‘s two-parter “New Order” and then watch Atlantis‘s “Rising.” Then alternate, making sure to watch both parts of the SG-1 season finale “Moebius” before “The Siege.”
If you’d rather not alternate between the two series, watch SG-1 first. You can even finish all 10 seasons before starting Atlantis, though there will be the occasional reference to the other show — and one big crossover episode, Season Ten’s “The Pegasus Project.”
4) SG-1 Season Nine & Atlantis Season Two. The same goes for the 2005-2006 broadcast season. There are less points of contact in continuity this year, so it’s not as big a deal to watch them alternately or to watch SG-1 first.
5) SG-1 Season Ten & Atlantis Season Three. Same for 2006-2007. Stargate SG-1 concluded its television run with “Unending” (leaving the primary storyline from the final two years unfinished). Again, there weren’t a lot of direct points of contact (beside the occasional aside) during this year. The big exception is that crossover episode “The Pegasus Project” (SG-1 Season Ten), which technically ought to be viewed after you pick up the resolution to Atlantis‘s second season cliffhanger with “No Man’s Land.”
6) Stargate: The Ark of Truth. The SG-1 team’s first direct-to-DVD movie wraps up the storyline from the last two years of the show. Pick it up after “Unending” — no need to finish the third season of Atlantis first.
7) Atlantis Season Four. There’s a major cast change with the fourth season of the show, so you’ll want to have watched all of SG-1 and The Ark of Truth before continuing on into this season. (The last two years of Stargate Atlantis ran by itself, after SG-1 was cancelled.)
8) Atlantis Season Five’s “Search and Rescue.” The start of the fifth season concludes the Season Four cliffhanger, and ends with another cast change. There’s also a line of dialogue which places it immediately before the second SG-1 movie.
9) Stargate: Continuum. Though it is a stand-alone adventure for the team, it is set chronologically just after “Search and Rescue.” You’ll see why. Continuum also wraps up another story (that of a recurring villain) from SG-1‘s television run.
10) Atlantis Season Five, episodes 2 through 20. After Continuum, pick up with the rest of Atlantis‘s final season.
11) Stargate Universe Season One. The third Stargate series picks up soon after the events of the Atlantis finale (though there are no particularly explicit points of connection).
12) Stargate Universe Season Two. The second and final season of SGU further develops the story arc in important ways. But don’t expect any grand resolutions; the show was cancelled just when things were really getting going. (There have not yet been any announcements about any future continuations of the story — at least not in an official, canonical medium.)
Welcome to the world of Stargate! As you enjoy the franchise’s 314 episodes (to date) and three movies, read detailed analyses in GateWorld’s episode guides, and chat with other fans at GateWorld Forum! We’ve also done season-by-season audio reviews of the shows on the GateWorld Podcast (and for individual episodes starting with Atlantis Season Five) to keep you company while you watch.
What about the fourth series, Stargate Origins? We’ll have to see it before we decide where to recommend placing it in this viewing order. Origins‘ inaugural story is a prequel that follows a young Catherine Langford. It may be fun for newcomers to the franchise to watch it first, before the 1994 feature film — or it could be written in some way to rely upon the audience’s knowledge of what comes later. Stay tuned.